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September 6, 2011

Locating yourself on the semantic Earth

Some surprises in the new Pew Internet report on the use of location-based services, although since I don’t really have many expectations about this, I can’t be all that surprised.

It’s not particularly surprising to me that “28% of cell owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location” or that only 5% of cell phone owners “use their phones to check in to locations using geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla” (although 12% of smartphone users do). What’s most surprising is that only “9% of internet users set up social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so that their location is automatically included in their posts on those services.” I wonder why not. I don’t, because of a vague sense that it’s a privacy invasion that brings no benefit that I care about. But that’s just me. And then there’s a huge ethnic disparity: “[A]lmost a third (31%) of Latino social media users [enable] automatic location-tagging,” compared to 10% of white, non-Hispanic social media users. [Note that the 9% represents Internet users, not social media users.]

I don’t know what to make of that. I do find it interesting…and yet further evidence that there is no single thing that is “the” Internet. As with everything else, what it is depends so much on who you are.